“A flag is different than any other form of art,” said Gilbert Baker in an interview with the MoMA blog just two years before his passing in 2017. Baker is well known—and not just among vexillographers—as the artist and gay rights activist who created the rainbow flag.
“It’s not a painting, it’s not just cloth, it's not a just logo,” he added. “I thought that we needed that kind of symbol, that we needed as a people something that everyone instantly understands. [The Rainbow Flag] doesn’t say the word ‘Gay,’ and it doesn’t say ‘the United States’ on the American flag, but everyone knows visually what they mean. And that influence really came to me when I decided that we should have a flag, that a flag fit us as a symbol, that we are a people, a tribe, if you will. And flags are about proclaiming power, so it’s very appropriate."
Since its creation in 1978, however, the flag has progressed in recent years to be more representative of the LGBTQ+ community, as were Baker’s wishes.
That latest evolution comes at the hands of designer and founder of Intersex Equality Rights UK Valentino Vecchietti, incorporating Morgan Carpenter’s 2013 intersex flag design that features a yellow background with an unbroken purple ring at the center. The yellow and purple colors have a long association with the intersex community—not gendered stereotype colors like blue and pink—and the purple ring represents wholeness.
“Since we posted this flag on our Instagram page intersex.equality.rights.uk and on Twitter (@WeAreIERUK), intersex people and allies from all over the globe have said it is bringing them joy to see intersex inclusion in the Pride Progress flag,” the organization wrote on Instagram. “We are sharing the graphic freely with everyone. Please message us on Instagram to request a jpeg or a high-resolution image file which you can get made into a flag.”
In 2017, activist Amber Hikes incorporated the colors black and brown into the flag to promote a more inclusive message to Black and Brown folks after issues of racism came to the surface in Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ community. A year later, artist Daniel Quasar added the pink, white, and baby blue stripes of the transgender flag into the mix.